11-year-old boy dying of leukemia asks for racing stickers to cover his casket

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Caleb Hammond is spending his remaining days surrounded by racing and is asking for racing stickers for his casket after ending cancer treatment. (AP)
Caleb Hammond is spending his remaining days surrounded by racing and is asking for racing stickers for his casket after ending cancer treatment. (AP)

Caleb Hammond’s family recently made a devastating decision.

Painful treatments for the 11-year-old’s leukemia were not working, and his family chose to pull him out of the hospital to live out the remainder of his days in the relative comfort of his Oskaloosa, Iowa home.

Dying boy wants racing stickers for his casket

Hammond, an avid race fan who has visited the Southern Iowa Speedway with his uncle Chris Playle since he was 2 years old, has asked for people to send him racing stickers to put on his casket in a story told to the Des Moines Register

“We’re trying to get a bunch of them,” Playle told The Register. “We’re trying to decorate his casket. We’re just trying to do as much as we can with him while he’s here.”

Doctors diagnosed Hammond with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2017 when he was 9 years old. He has since undergone a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy that required Hammond to be put in a medically-induced coma and dialysis and led to heart failure, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his stepmother Kylee Hammond

Hammond leaves hospital after failed cancer treatments

When his cancer returned aggressively after several painful treatments, his family decided to pull him out of Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines.

In the three-plus weeks since he’s been home, Hammond has felt better, according to his uncle.

“Medically, he’s still pretty strong,” Playle told The Register. “I know later on in the evenings he’s tired, he’s ready to settle down… He gets worn-out kind of easy. But otherwise, he’s still pretty strong and spirits still pretty high.”

Hammond lived dream of driving race car

Hammond felt well enough this past weekend to attend the Southern Iowa Speedway and actually got to drive a car on the dirt track with the guidance of 12-year-old racer Jacob Foster, who was riding shotgun in the hobby car. 

The Oskaloosa Herald reported on the experience that saw Hammond surprised at the track with the chance to drive a race car.

“Pretty awesome,” Caleb’s father John Hammond told the Herald. “A goal of his was to be able to drive a race car when he got older. It’s like a dream come true.”

Dirt track, NASCAR drivers helping to gather stickers

While Hammond was racing in Iowa, driver Bryan Baker was collecting stickers for him at a Texas race track.

Meanwhile, 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon saw Hammond’s story and promised to put together some stickers for him.

The racing experience and support from the community has lifted Hammond’s spirits, according to his uncle, who told The Register that his family was trying to expose him to as much racing as possible in his remaining days.

“We’re just trying to get some racing in and trying to do everything we can to keep the spirit up,” Playle said. “The support and everything, all the cards he’s receiving in the mail, it’s been overwhelming.”

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